A few weeks ago I was approached by my friend Mark from Proline Photography about helping him out this year shooting the Indiana State Hockey Championship.  Mark’s company provides all the coverage and prints for the families of the event, which gets complicated as it happens in both Fort Wayne and Indianapolis on the same days of the same weekend.  Obviously he can’t be both places at once, so he asked me to help him out with the Saturday of the Indianapolis Portion.  I like Mark, and I like shooting hockey so this seemed like a great opportunity for some neat photos; especially since I have another Sports Photography workshop coming up in April with Roberts Camera Education and the Indy Fuel Hockey Team!

_ML48602s(Nikon D4, 6400ISO, Nikon 300mm F2.8D AFS Version 1.  1/1000th@F2.8)

It was a long Saturday.  Not dark and stormy though as that beginning sentence might lead you to think.  In fact it was actually really nice outside from what folks said who were there that day but I didn’t see one lick of it.  It was almost like a hockey bender you see as I shot 2/3 of 12 different games.  Mark set all the logistics for me, and his son Chris was there to collect cards to put on computers for folks to look at to buy prints, but regardless of that fact I learned something very important that day.  12 hockey games in a row is absolutely insane.  For me shooting most sports is done with multiple cameras.  Not quite multiple cameras in the likes of my pal Andy Hancock who uses 8 cameras to shoot basketball, but multiple cameras as in two bodies and two lenses.  Because of the absolute quick turnaround on the images from game to parents ordering prints, I was asked only to have 200 or so final shots per game that needed to be done and on card when I walked through to the next game.  That means no motor drive.  As much as I do enjoy blasting away at 10-12 frames per second, that’s a lot of photos to look through on top of the fact that it can make you lazy and you end up missing more shots than you get assuming that 10 slices out of a second will catch something.  With Hockey, 10fps still only nets you maybe 1 frame of something nice, but you then have 9 frames to delete.   This also meant I had to be very careful with my timing, which luckily I feel was pretty on that day.

_M4S0551(Nikon D4s, 6400ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@200mm. 1/1000th@F2.8)

My weapons of choice were as usual my Nikon D4, and D4s, with a 70-200F2.8 but also a 300F2.8 for the day to go with them.  This was great because it’s super dark when shooting in the venue in question (at least for shooting hockey anyway), but it was also terrible as about 8 games in I was starting to feel the wear and tear of doing curls with the D4 and 300F2.8. For the record, the D4 weighs 1.4kg, and the 300 3.1kg.  For the American’s in the group that’s just shy of 10lbs combined, and that’s just one of the two cameras I was using back and forth depending on where the action was in the rink.  Makes me really appreciate what people like my friends John and Kelly of White Shark Photographic do all the time with the Indy Fuel.

_M4S0611(Nikon D4s, 6400ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@92mm. 1/1000th@F2.8)

While I did in fact shoot quite a few more frames of regular game action than I did of the goalies, I tend to think the Goalie shots are the most dynamic.  That said, I think the real story of the day though (at least to me) was the game between Lake Central Blue vs the South Stars A team.  Not for any final score, or epic play reasons though so hear me out.  About mid way through the game I started noticing a trend that the South Stars were really trying to put a world of hurt on the Lake Central Blue Goalie.  Not try to physically hurt the goalie mind you, but they were taking shot after shot at any opportunity as if they were desperate to score.  I found it slightly odd since at the time they were winning by 1 goal but the players were getting increasingly aggressive I felt, in some cases skating at full force towards the goalie even at the risk of injuring either.  Now, yes hockey is a very physical sport and this can seem normal  as this was a tournament but there was something different about this that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  This was so much the case that towards the end of my second period covering the game I was primarily watching the Goalie, looking for some great goalie action shots to which I wasn’t disappointed.

_ML48001(Nikon D4, 6400ISO, Nikon 300mmF2.8D AFS Version 1.  1/1000th@F2.8)

Funny thing is the hair in that photo.  There were a lot of kids playing that day that had long hair( seriously when did high schools start allowing guys to have hair down pas their shoulders?) so it didn’t occur to me while I was shooting, but it did occur to me after the game while the photos were on the slideshow outside the rink.  The goalie was a girl.  In fact, after a little bit of internet research, I’m pretty sure she was the ONLY girl I saw play that day in the 12 games that I shot.  Now I feel like I know why the other team was trying so hard to score and it wasn’t just because the goalie was a girl.  It was because she was a girl, that was stopping a lot of their shots.  Good for her for playing in a sport that she wanted, and not deciding not to play because there wasn’t a “Girls hockey team”.  To me that speaks volumes about her character, and the character of her parents as well, who I am sure helped to get her into this sport despite what was likely a few obstacles.

_ML48088(Nikon D4s, 6400ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@175mm. 1/1000th@F2.8)

It was quite the day to say the least.  I saw quite a bit of good hockey, and not only that but I made some nice photos.  My arms feel like jelly at the time of this writing considering I essentially did about 1,000 10 pound curls over the course of the 12 games, but in the end I guess it’s just like sacrificing yourself for the game right?  Make sure that if you were at the games, are a parent, or player reading this to head over to Proline’s page to look at the rest of the photos from each game.  The files on this post have been lightly edited as opposed to the ones there, but they are pretty large and sharp so you crop accordingly when looking to order prints.  I only shot Saturday’s games, and for a few games there was a guy named Albert there shooting also.  Anything shot with a D4, D4s, or D800 was mine though so if you like what you’ve seen here that’s how you can tell if I shot it.  I think the other guys are all Canon anyway, but those were the cameras I had there.  Some of my frames are more loose than I’d have liked, but there was little to zero editing done to the files before going up for public consumption so that’s not only up to whomever is ordering a file or print to figure out, but it also shows the extreme importance of getting it right the first time.  Also sports fans, save the date for April 4th, 2015 when I’ll be doing another Sports Photography Workshop with Roberts Camera with the Indy Fuel!  Not only are we doing a classroom portion beforehand where we talk about the best autofocus and camera settings to use, but we will actually have media tags and be shooting the game between the Fuel and the Fort Wayne Komets!  Check HERE for more info.  More Soon.

  _M4S9987(Nikon D4s, 6400ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR@170mm.  1/1000th@F2.8)